Depression and chronic pain often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, it can also be a chicken or egg situation. How do you know if your chronic pain has led to depression or the other way around? There have been several recent studies that try to better understand the links between this mental health condition and pain.
A recent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology showed a shocking link between pain and depression in adolescents. A questionnaire was distributed to young people diagnosed with a variety of mental conditions including ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
The adolescents were asked if they experienced chronic pain. Seven out of ten of the students indicated that they did, in fact, experience pain. Adolescents with a specific diagnosis of depression experienced pain in higher numbers with eight out ten responding that it was part of their experience. Girls experienced more pain than boys regardless of their mental diagnosis.
These astounding numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pain management in conjunction to treating this mental health condition.
“These numbers are so high that the entire support system for children and adolescents needs to be made more aware of the link between physical pain and psychiatric disorders. Physical pain is most common among young people who have conditions such as anxiety and depression, where they tend to be more focused on their problems. This is not a surprise, but it is a clear signal that we need to keep this in mind when treating mental health problems,” says Indredavik.
We also must assume that if chronic pain is present in adolescents with depression that the situation is also the case in adults. Treating one without the other will only further exacerbate either issue for patients dealing with painful symptoms. Individuals undergoing treatment for this mental health condition often spend time focusing on additional problems such as chronic pain and without addressing those issues as well, they will continue in the pattern of depression.
What do you think about the link between depression and chronic pain?
Image by D. Sharon Pruitt via Flickr